Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

Batman: Fighting Figures and Fighting the Future

Hot Toys, makers of super detailed action figures have released a 6 minute short film with their Batman toys in action. It’s cool and rather whacky and features Commissioner Gordon, Batman, Joker and Bane. Watch Batman: The Dark Knightfall below and drool over more of their great work here.

Frank Miller’s influential and groundbreaking 1986 mini-series featuring an ageing Batman in a terrifying future Gotham is the next release from Warner Bros. slate of animated films based on DC Comics stories. Below is the official info of The Dark Knight Returns and the cool trailer.

FRANK MILLER’S COMIC MASTERPIECE IS NOW AN ALL-NEW DC UNIVERSE ANIMATED ORIGINAL MOVIE BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1 COMING SEPT. 25, 2012 FROM WARNER HOME VIDEO

RoboCop star Peter Weller leads Stellar Voice Cast as Batman
in Animated Blu-rayTM Combo Pack & DVD

Frank Miller’s landmark graphic novel about fear, hope and redemption is celebrated with proper measures of haunting visuals and intense action in Batman: The Dark Knight
Returns, Part 1, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated film arrives September 25, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. The Blu-ray™ Combo
Pack will include UltraViolet™.

The DC Universe Animated Original Movies have been a fan favorite since debuting in 2007 with Superman Doomsday. Now averaging three releases each year, the DCU animated films are based on classic tales from DC Comics’ revered library or original stories featuring DC’s
fabled characters. Stars of feature film and primetime television populate the stellar voice casts of the DCU animated films. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 represents the 15th film in the ongoing series.

Fanboy demi-god Peter Weller (RoboCop) leads a stellar voice cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Joining Weller behind the microphone is David Selby (The Social Network, Dark Shadows) as Commissioner Gordon, Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Carrie/Robin, three-time DCU veteran Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, and Michael McKean
(This is Spinal Tap) as Dr. Bartholomew Wolper.

In the bleak and ominous future of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, it’s been a decade since Bruce Wayne hung up his cape, following most of the other superheroes who had been forced into retirement.  Facing the downside of middle age, a restless Bruce Wayne
pacifies his frustration with racecars and liquor – but the Bat still beckons as he watches his city fall prey to gangs of barbaric criminals known as The Mutants.

The return of Harvey Dent as Two-Face finally prompts Wayne to once again don the Dark Knight’s cowl, and his dramatic capture of the villain returns him to crime-fighting – simultaneously making him the target of law enforcement and the new hope for a desolate Gotham City. Particularly inspired is a teenage girl named Carrie, who adopts the persona of Robin and ultimately saves Batman from a brutal attack by the Mutant leader.  Armed with a new sidekick, and re-energized with a definitive purpose, the Dark Knight returns to protect Gotham from foes new … and old.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 is directed by Jay Oliva (Man of Steel, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights) from a screenplay by Bob Goodman (Warehouse 13). Sam Register (Young Justice, Teen Titans, Ben 10) and Bruce Timm (Justice League: Doom) are the executive producers. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 will provide the epic story’s
thrilling conclusion with its release in early 2013.

“Frank Miller’s classic re-imagining of Batman has been faithfully recreated under Bruce Timm’s skilled guidance as a masterpiece of storytelling,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Home Video Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing and Partner Brands. “This
story has been treated with great reverence, including a tour-de-force performance by science fiction legend Peter Weller as the voice of Batman. We know our fans will not only love this film as a stand-alone, but will clamor for the release of the second half next year.”

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 Blu-ray™ Combo Pack has more
than 2 hours of exciting content, including:
•       Standard and high definition versions of the feature film
•       UltraViolet™*
•       Sneak Peak at Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, the next DC
Universe Animated Original Movie
•       Featurette – “Her Name is Carrie … Her Role is Robin” – An all-new
featurette.  Experience the role of Robin, through the eyes of a
female warrior.
•       Featurette – “Batman and Me: The Bob Kane Story” – A documentary
comprehensively chronicling the remarkable life of the creator of
Batman.
•       Two bonus episodes from Batman: The Animated Series handpicked by
producer Alan Burnett: Two-Face, Parts 1 and 2
•       Digital Comic – “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” (digital comic
with cover art and three full comic pages)

* Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 UltraViolet offer is a
limited time offer.  Restrictions and limitations apply.  Go to
ultraviolet.flixster .com/info for details.

Finally, here’s a short video showing many of the different Batman symbols used over the decades. There have been a lot.

This Week’s DC Previews

It’s time for some previews for all of DC’s release this week. You can catch a few pages from All Star Western, Aquaman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Blackhawks, The Flash, The Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern: New Guardinas, I, Vampire, Justice League Dark, Hawkman, Superman, Teen Titans and Voodoo  right here and this is also the week in which more integration, and cross-overs of series comes to the fore.

 

 

Justice League: Doom Box Art

Inspired by Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s excellent Tower of Babel storyline from the Justice League comics in the ’90s that had Batman unwittingly defeating his teammates, is this next animated film From DC Comics and Warner Bros. The only new info we have is the release date of February 28, and the box art below. Judging by the previously released trailer, it does seem a loose adaptation though, with Cyborg now in the team, and the immortal Vandal Savage as the main villain. It is the last screenplay written by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie though, so it should be entertaining.

The film features the voices of primetime stars Nathan Fillion (Castle), Tim Daly (Private Practice) and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) in addition to a cavalcade of voiceover alums from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated television series.

 

 

Extra Sequential Podcast #70-Unread Stack

53 mins. We all have one – a pile of shame. In other words, comics that have been sitting, and gathering dust, on our bookshelves for far too long. We discuss our own examples, and the reasons why they’ve remained unopened.  Also, Brigitte Nielsen’s body of work.

LISTEN TO IT HERE

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

GET IT ON iTUNES HERE

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

1:44 NEWS

Brian Wood’s thoughts on digital comics

Jim Zubkavich’s thoughts on comics piracy

Brian Michael Bendis leaves the Avengers franchise

Chewbacca on Glee (yes, it’s true)

Alan Moore on Frank Miller

19:07 THEME-UNREAD PILE

The whys of our collecting habits, plus books on our stack we’ve finally read this week.

Kris’ stack:

Jack Kirby’s OMAC

 

The Rocketeer

 

Starman Omnibus

 

Elephantmen

 

Madame Mirage

 

Superman: Emperor Joker

 

Fray

 

Seeds from Com.x

 

Underground

 

Thor Visionaries Vol. 1 Walt Simonson

 

Hulk Visionaries Peter David Vols 1-4

 

(and recently read) Meltdown, and A God Somewhere

 

Mladen’s stack:

 

Spirou

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

Epic Comics’ Interface

 

Moebius’ Blueberry

 

Peter Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man

 

Bonelli comic Ken Parker

 

Dragon Ball Z

 

Battle Angel Alita

 

Cerebus (after Minds)

 

(and recently read) Tintin and the Alph-Art, and Vic and Blood: The Chronicles of a Boy and His Dog

 

Plus, stuff we’d like to own, and hopefully read one day!